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iPhone Lightning headphones

Here's the good, bad and ugly stuff about using iPhone's Lightning headphones


The iPhone 7 goes on sale today. Good luck getting one.

WATCH  | Circa's Daniel Bean puts the iPhone 7's new Lightning headphones through its paces.

R.I.P. headphone jack, long live Lightning

Your mourning period over the death of the headphone jack is over, and it's now time to decide: Will you move ahead with iPhone 7 and Lightning headphones, or will you cling to your old iPhone and its 3.5 mm audio jack?

To help you decide, here's a rundown of some of the good and bad you'll be faced with after (if ever) you switch over to Lightning headphones with iPhone.

EarPods are now Lightning

When (or if) you get the iPhone 7, you'll be pleased to find your first pair of Lightning headphones right there in the box -- because Apple's EarPod earbuds now are a Lightning upgrade.

If you're used to wearing EarPods, then in most scenarios you should feel right at home with iPhone 7 and the new Lightning port situation.

Apple's Lightning EarPods

Apple's typical sleek design also comes with some cool new features. (Photo: Apple)

BAD: There isn't much choice

If EarPods aren't your cup of tea, your headphone situation with iPhone 7 will be considerably iffier.

Right now, for your headphone jack smartphone, you can find normal earbuds for $20, and they'll sound decent, too. So far, that's not the case yet with Lightning headphones.

The Lightning headphone market is still mostly made up of luxury or feature-filled over-the-ear headphones and earbuds. But with Apple committed to Lightning and the iPhone being as popular as it is, expect that to change pretty soon.

GOOD: Lightning has better sound quality

Because a Lightning connection allows for digital data to transfer from headphones to iPhone, Lightning headphones can pack their own high-quality DACs (digital audio converters) and bring sound that's better than what you'd get with regular headphones plugged into a jack.

The Audeze EL-8 Lightning headphones ($799), for instance, have a 24-bit DAC in their cable, and the DAC can be EQed through an app on the iPhone.

MIXED: Lightning headphones can drain iPhone's battery

Lightning headphones can not only do more, but they can do more without needing to have their own batteries.

But this means that Lightning cans and earbuds like the Audeze EL-8s, with their onboard DAC, and the JBL Reflect Aware ($199), with their noise reduction feature, pull power from you iPhone and will drain its precious battery faster.

There's only one Lightning port on the iPhone 7, so you can't simultaneously listen to headphones and charge your phone unless you have a (bulky and not cheap) adapter.

Belkin's Apple iPhone 7 adapter

Need to listen and charge at the same time? There's an adapter for that: Belkin's iPhone 7 multi-Lightning adapter.

UGLY: That headphone jack adapter

Of course, Apple has extended an olive branch to those who can't let go of standard headphones but want the new iPhone: The company is throwing a Lightning-to-headphone jack adapter into the box with each iPhone 7.

It's not pretty, but it will reconnect you with your favorite pair of analogue buds.

BAD: Only work with iOS devices

Here's an annoyance: You can't plug Lightning headphones into your MacBook.

Since the Lightning port is, for now, only compatible with iOS devices, you'll have to carry your shiny new Lightning headphones along with another standard pair for your office computer or anything that's not an iPhone, iPad or iPod. Bummer.

MIXED: There's always Bluetooth

What Apple is really hoping will skyrocket after its axing of the headphone jack is wireless headphone use. To that point, the company launched at the iPhone 7 event a new pair of completely wireless headphones (meaning no tether between the earbuds) called AirPods ($159).

Of course, the iPhone 7 can connect with all types of Bluetooth headphones, and there are a lot more choices of Bluetooth headphones than there are Lightning right now.

Just remember: Wireless headphones mean yet another thing to charge, and that can get exhausting.

How are you feeling about moving on from the headphone jack?

Add it all up and what do you get? Is the iPhone 7 and its Lightning headphone port a good fit for you, or does its inconveniences beat out the phone's more advanced camera and sleek, new water resistant design?

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